Aruch HaShulchan, Laws of Tzedakah 251:19
1 א
ערוך השולחן יורה דעה הלכות צדקה סימן רנא סעיף יט
2ב
שאלו להרא"ש ז"ל ציבור שנצרך להם רב וגם שליח ציבור להוציא את הרבים ידי חובתן ואין ידם משגת לשני הדברים מי קודם והשיב [כלל ו'] דאם הוא רק מובהק ובקי בתורה בהוראות ובדינים ת"ת קודם ואם לאו ש"ץ עדיף להוציא רבים י"ח עכ"ל והביאו הטור והש"ע סעי' י"ג ומשמע מזה דהש"ץ היה הכרח להוציא רבים מפני שהרבה ע"ה היו שלא יכלו להתפלל כלל ואיש אחר לא היה ביכולתו לעמוד לפני העמוד להתפלל ואפ"ה רב מובהק עדיף ואינו מן התימה כי תורה גדולה מתפלה:
They asked the Rosh, may his memory be a blessing: If a congregation needs a rabbi and a prayer leader who can fulfill the congregants’ [obligation to pray], and the congregation is not of means to pay for both, which should they hire first? And the Rosh responded that if the rabbi is exemplary and an expert in Torah and instruction and judgments, then teaching Torah (i.e. the rabbi) precedes. And if [the rabbi does not meet this standard], it is preferable to first hire a prayer leader to fulfill the congregants’ obligations [to pray] - until here are the Rosh’s words. The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch also cite this response, and we learn from this that the prayer leader is crucial to fulfill the congregants’ obligation because [the congregation is comprised largely of] ignoramuses who could not pray on their own and there was no one who could stand before the congregation to lead them in prayer. And even in this situation, an exemplary rabbi is preferred and this should not be astonishing because Torah is greater than prayer. [Translation by AJWS]
3 ג

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What needs are filled by a rabbi? What needs are filled by a prayer leader? How are these needs different?

2. Why does an exemplary rabbi take precedence over a prayer leader?

3. What educational values are evident in this text? How is the value of education weighted against fulfilling Jewish legal obligations of prayer?

4 ד
Time Period: Modern (Spinoza through post-WWII)